I have been using this blog as a bit of an internet diary–a way to vent my frustrations. I’m sure that there are a few people who come across what I have to say are somewhat confused. That’s why I’ve decided to start writing stories and anecdotes from my past. My history, my childhood, had a big part in helping to develop who I’ve become today. I hope that the stories I have to offer are entertaining, as well. Let’s start with how I felt as a child, and why:
Childhood was a very lonely time for me. I loved my little brother immensely, but I also felt responsible for him. I couldn’t just enjoy his company, because if anything were to happen to him, I would get into trouble for not keeping watch over him. Our religion ensured that friends were out of the question. My parents were Jehovah’s Witnesses. This meant that I was completely avoided at school, and everywhere else. Because our religion didn’t believe in holidays, everyone else gave us wide berth, afraid that we had some sort of disease that might be catching. The only holiday we did celebrate was Thanksgiving, you know, the one without gifts…
My childhood wasn’t completely negative. The lack of children’s church at the “Kingdom Hall” gave me in-depth knowledge very early. I won my first biblical debate at age three. I don’t remember the details now, but I know that it was concerning the tower of Babel. My grandfather was saying one thing, and I corrected him. He tried to tell me I was mistaken, but I got my bible story book to show him. All I remember about winning the debate is Grandpa saying, “Well, I’ll be damned!”
There had always been things in the bible that didn’t made sense to me. I tried to take them at face value, but it was hard. The story of Lot’s wife bothered me. God said don’t look back, yet Lot’s wife looked back, and was turned to a pillar of salt. How would Lot know that unless he looked back to see that? Yet nothing bad ever happened to him. Why is curiosity depicted as such a horrible thing? Not just in the story of Lot’s wife, but in the creation story, as well. The fall of humanity is caused by curiosity–wanting to know the truth of good and evil. Why else would Adam and Eve partake of the fruit that gives knowledge of good and evil?
Every time I would ask questions about the logic of these things, someone would tell me that it was not my place to ask such questions. Well, if not my place, then whose? Someone needed to ask these questions, because they needed to be answered. At no point during this phase did it occur to me to doubt the existence of God. It was a given, to me, that he was there. He was listening to my prayers, and watching over my life. The concept of atheism hadn’t even been introduced to me. Nor had I been introduced to any other religions, either monotheistic or polytheistic. All I had ever known, all I had ever been taught was that God existed, He was watching, and He was listening, therefore, that was what I believed, without considering any alternatives, because I didn’t know there were alternatives.
My life now is far different from what it was during my childhood. I strive to shake off isolation as much as I can. Though I don’t like extremely large get-togethers (perhaps because I feel alone in large crowds), I really enjoy smaller engagements where everyone knows each other. I especially like to host these parties. I love the holidays. Being an atheist doesn’t detract from my holiday spirit in any way. I don’t care about greetings–Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Chanukah, whatever. I’m just happy to know that someone is saying something nice to me (that’s rare here in California). Believe it or not, I probably knew more about the bible at three than I do now. I did so much studying over the years trying to figure out what was real and what wasn’t, that I packed so much biblical knowledge into my head, it almost exploded. Over the last ten years or so, I let it all go. Of course the knowledge is still there, but it isn’t all consuming anymore. I no longer feel the need to throw biblical trivia at people when they say something that is incorrect, or something I don’t agree with. I came to the realization that the bible is just a book, like so many others. With that realization, I no longer need to “prove” anything, for or against it.
There are many other things that helped to shape who I am today, but my outgoing, friendly personality definitely comes from the isolation I felt as a child, and my love for holidays and get-togethers comes from being deprived of having those things when I was young. So many times in the past I’ve wished that my parents would have celebrated holidays–I often wondered if their choice of religion was more about faith or a lack of love for me and my brother. Now, I wonder if they had celebrated holidays like everyone else when I was young, would I cherish them as much as I do now?